Two really good words: quality and Goldilocks. Quality is a description, a standard and a way. It’s hard to describe and even harder to learn. The successful programs are nothing but quality. They will accept nothing less. It will be in everything about them – from the stall latches to the broodmares, from the arena dirt to the wash rack.
Quality demands a higher price, but a higher price does not make it quality. It just means somebody met a salesman. Quality is smart money. Quality equipment needs less maintenance. Quality horses train easier and need fewer cows. Quality horses win more money. Quality horses sell higher. It is much easier to sell what people want instead of what you got.
More money is wasted on the delusion that you are going to see something in a horse that the collective whole of the world’s best horse people overlooked. It can happen, you can even do it, just buy the one next to the unicorn. You can waste a lot of time and money like this.
Goldilocks, from Three Bears fame, insisted everything must be just right. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just as many failures come from too much as too little. If two doses are prescribed, then 20 must be even better…and you just doctored the patient to death. No matter how much energy you have or how bad you want to get it done, things just take time. Patience is your friend. All things in moderation and in their time. When the turkey needs 300 degrees for three hours, you can’t substitute 900 degrees for one hour. Horses and people must have time to think about stuff.
Another word for Goldilocks is superfluous, defined as unnecessary, more than enough, nonessential, redundant, unneeded, excess, unused or left over.
Cutting saddles are not inexpensive. Most are pretty plain looking. The hardest thing is making something more with less. Pretty in our world is an action, not an appearance. Our saddles are tools to get our horses shown. I have some tools 50 years old. They fit just right. In saddles, it is that “pocket.” It fits your backend parts just right. When your horse hits that stop, you just naturally slide right in there. Not only are you in the perfect position to be ready for what happens next, but it is just as comfortable and reassuring to your pony that she did the right thing. Your pony knows exactly where you are. She knows if you’re fixing to pick up those reins for a correction. She knows if you’re bracing to launch her out past that cow. She knows you are turning it over to her. She knows everything. There is nowhere on the judging sheet to plus or minus the saddle. It does not need to be pretty; it needs to be right. You cannot pay too much for that saddle.
Back in the day, it was all about movement with a lot of dirt flying. Sometimes a cow would just stand there and the rider would get his horse to jump side to side, kicking dirt all about. Cute. When the American diet changed to no-fat beef, the beef breeders went to using Limousins. A French breed. You know those Frenchies are kinda a nervous bunch. You go to kicking dirt in a cow’s face now, you are going to scare them. They’ll trip those circuit breakers, and Dillion Crumpler’s whole pack of dogs couldn’t hold one.
I can’t leave out the most important thing. The “cut.” Done right, it is a thing of beauty. Done with a scalpel, not a chainsaw. Bringing one straight out to the camera with your feet more than your hands. So smooth, she doesn’t know she is by her lonesome. Every move is covered like a blanket, smooth and quick in such a way that the horse not only stops that turn, but is already blocking the next. Making her stop and think.
Showing a cutting horse is all about the horse. Countless hours of training. Tens of thousands of hours spent learning to train a horse. That rarest of all things, God-given talent, tuned and concentrated into two and one-half minutes. Knowing when to let go, get out of your horse’s way and let that magic happen. Every single thing must be just right. Not too much, not too little. Goldilocks.
Cornbread Thinks: Bring quality, and nothing extra.